Zeus and the Magna Graecia” exhibition explores relations
between the two shores of the Ionian Sea in antiquity: Greece
It was inaugurated on March 8 at the National Archaeological
Museum of Reggio Calabria (MArRC) and will remain open until
The exhibition was curated by the museum’s director, Carmelo
Malacrino and Konstantinos I. Soueref, director of the
Archaeological Museum of Ioannina.
It is the result of a collaboration between the Reggio
Calabria museum, the Museum of Epirus and the University of
In the exhibition there are objects from Dodona, the
birthplace of the famed oracle, from the Archaeological Museum
of Ioannina. Some have never before been out of Greece.
Among them is a selection of small iron sheets with etchings
that mark them as coming from cities in Magna Graecia.
The objects tell of the archaeological and literary history
of the sanctuary dedicated to Zeus, on whom Euripides and
The oracle was well-known in all the cities of Magna Graecia,
including many in Calabria such as Hipponion, Reghion, Kroton,
Sybaris, Thourioi, Heraklea, Metapontion, and Taras.
”Pilgrims,” archaeologist Luigi Vecchio said, ”visited the
sanctuary from every part of Epirus, Thessaly, Attica, Beocia,
the Peloponnese, and Magna Graecia to ask the god mostly about
personal issues – marriages, business – in a practice that
lasted many centuries, from the 6th to the 2nd century BC, at
He added that ”the most characteristic and suggestive
element is the way in which this happened: in written form, on
very small sheets of metals that could fit into the palm of a
hand, with letters etched that measured only a few millimeters,
that were folded or rolled and given as the question.”
The oracle’s ”clients” were of the middle and lower
Vecchio added that the ”priestesses interpreted the god’s
answers through the sounds of nature: the rustling of the large
sacred oak and the flight of doves. These were sounds that
echoed in the silence of the valley.”
The answer is written on the back of some of the sheets of
metal. Some were ”recycled” to ask new questions.
”The bronze sheets,” MArRC director Malacrino said, ”from
the Magna Graecia colonies in Calabria, along with some other
finds in this large exhibition, lead the visitor through a
fascinating journey to discover the deep and ancient link
between Italy and Greece, and especially between the regions
overlooking the Ionian Sea, which separates as well as unites
the two shores. Through this exhibition, the National
Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria confirms its place as
cultural hub for the Mediterranean and as a meeting place for
populations that share cultures and traditions. And, above all,
it confirms that it serves as a laboratory for research and
synthesis between studies and activities carried out by
different institutes throughout the world.” (ANSAmed).